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Big employers push Northern Pass project

By Union Leader staff
March 17. 2016 11:36PM

The state’s business community has jumped into the debate over the Northern Pass with both feet, as more than 50 of the state’s largest employers, led by BAE Systems, urged approval of the controversial hydroelectric project, claiming it will reduce electric prices.

At a Wednesday public hearing hosted by the Site Evaluation Committee, the state board considering the joint project between Eversource-NH and HydroQuebec, BAE executive Paul Markwardt submitted a statement titled “NH Business Leaders Supporting the Northern Pass.”

In his introduction, Markwardt wrote that the Northern Pass transmission lines will “provide unmistakably clear benefits to New Hampshire by bringing low-cost electricity directly to the state’s residents and businesses, creating hundreds of jobs, and providing millions in tax revenue.”

The executives signing the statement represented a wide swath of the state’s economy, from manufacturers like Turbocam and Hitchiner, to tech firms like Dyn, to mom and pop shops like the Errol General Store — all of them urging the state’s elected officials to join in supporting Northern Pass.

“This is a strong signal of the importance the state’s business community places on the project and the impact it will have in terms of future energy savings,” said Eversource spokesman Martin Murray.

The public relations campaign for and against the project is intensifying as it moves through the formal state approval process. On the same day the state’s business leaders issued their statement, the New England Power Generators Association jumped into the fray, challenging claims by Eversource and HydroQuebec regarding lower electricity prices from Northern Pass.

The group that represents power plant owners claims, “long-term contracts for large-scale hydropower from Canada will not be cheap and will not have the hoped for result of lowering consumers’ electric rates.”

Jack Savage, a spokesman for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, agreed.

“It’s important to remember that promises of lower electric rates are only that — promises,” he said, “and New Hampshire has heard promises from big energy interests before.”

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